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Facebook, YouTube Top List of Best Recruitment Tools, Study Finds

A growing number of US colleges and universities are relying on social media and mobile applications for recruiting and reaching their students, according to findings from a recent study conducted by the Society for New Communications Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research. In the report, one in three responding schools indicated that social media was better than traditional media—including newspaper, television, radio, and print—for reaching its desired audience.

"This is the first time a study has documented ROI for those using social media in the high-ed sector," said Senior Fellow and Research Co-Chair Nora Ganim Barnes, in a prepared statement. "It is interesting to see that colleges and universities are moving away from printing and other traditional media tools and moving towards using social media tools."

The study, conducted by Barnes and fellow UMD researcher Ava M. Lescault during the 2011-2012 school year, examined social media adoption and investment among four-year colleges and universities in the US. Admissions officers from participating schools provided insight on the impact social media had on their budgets and how they planned to invest in social media in the coming year.

Ninety-two percent of undergraduate admissions officers interviewed report that social media is a worthy investment. Eighty-six percent intend to increase their investment in social media for the next school year.

Spending on traditional media is down across the board with campuses reporting that they spent 33 percent less on print media, 24 percent less on newspaper advertising, and 17 percent less on radio and TV marketing.

Topping the list of most effective tools for recruiting undergraduates were Facebook and YouTube, at 94 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Twitter came in third at 69 percent, just above downloadable mobile apps at 51 percent. Mobile apps found favor among graduate students. Eighty-two percent of top MBA programs report mobile apps as their most effective recruiting tool. Seventy-eight percent of the schools surveyed for this report indicated that "these tools have changed the way they recruit."

Barnes and Lescault plan to publish their findings in an upcoming issue of the Society for New Communications Research’s Journal of New Communications Research. A full copy of the research report, including an infographic summary, is available for download the Center's Web site.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].

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